Local Gem: Mystic Mayhem
Badass, feminist vests—sequined and rhinestoned to the nines? Kick-ass apparel we can relate to?
That's Mystic Mayhem, the fun-loving, sassy refurbished clothing brand by Sarah Hood.
We loved having this boss as a vendor at our October meet at Empire Control Room. She's moving to NYC this week, so wish her luck!
Get to know her come-up in our Q&A:
Q: What inspired you to start your business? Did you have any role models or learn from someone, in particular?
A: Growing up, I've always been into the punk and hardcore music scene, but never really felt I fit in, since my personal style was so different. All my friends wore head-to-toe black and band T-shirts, whereas I wanted to be bright, colorful and kawaii.
I took the tradition of the DIY [punk] vests and gave it my personal touch. I'd dye the vests bright colors and even made my own Lisa Frank back patches, covered with gold cone spikes and sequins.
I always got lots of compliments when I wore them out, and eventually I had people offering to pay me to make them custom ones. It was super exciting to see people enjoy what I was making enough to commission them, so I finally opened up my own shop. I made any kind I wanted, as well as offered custom orders, and Mystic Mayhem was born!
Q: Do you have any tidbits of advice for people with passions, in general?
A: Make sure it's a passion and not just a hobby. I knew for sure this is what I could spend the rest of my life doing when I'd find myself going out downtown on Friday nights and secretly wishing I was at home finishing up a project.
When you're truly excited about something, it's no longer a chore. And in the first few years of starting a business theres a lot of not-so-fun parts, so it takes a lot of passion to keep it moving forward. Almost everything is out of pocket, and a lot of time goes into it, so if it's not a true passion of yours, the fire burns out quickly.
Q: What have been your favorite moments of creativity?
A: I'm kind of neurotic (OK, totally super neurotic), so I tend over-plan and over-think things, even outfits for a night-out. But when my friend texts me "5 minutes away!" I get a rush of energy to decide, and I've found that the pressure ignites a creative energy and helps me pull together a perfect outfit that I probably would have never thought to piece together otherwise.
I've had this experience a few times with my store, as well. When I first started my business, I wanted to launch my website and collection during SXSW. As the weeks closed in and it was just a few days away, my panic turned into a monstrous force of creativity and I was able to warp up the website, photography, marketing collateral, promotional material and a finished line of 12-plus items all at the last minute. Of course, I'm not suggesting waiting to the last minute to do these things, but as an over-thinker, sometimes a fast-approaching deadline forces me into making decisions and listening to my gut instinct.
Q: What have been your most challenging moments in your career, thus far?
A: The most challenging moments have definitely been managing everything on my own. I often wish I had a partner to bounce ideas off of, as a lot of my friends love and support me, but don't necessarily have the same style as me or my art. It's hard for them to help or give opinions.
There is A LOT that goes into managing a store, especially when I already have a full-time job, freelance projects and volunteer work on my plate. It's very overwhelming, but luckily with my design background they've all been applicable to my marketing and design career. Thankfully the skills I learn at Modern Mayhem, I'll use for the rest of my life. Here's a "short" list of work that goes into running a store:
- ideas for new products
- experimenting with new materials and ideas
- shopping for best quality/price for materials
- execution of ideas and labor working on a piece
- deciding a fair price on an item, including materials, difficulty, labor, etc. while still making some profit
- documentation of each item for portfolio and to sell online including measurements, materials, photos
- branding guidelines, including logo, color palettes, etc. for use in marketing materials, website, packaging, etc.
- website design and development
- writing accurate and fun descriptions of each item
- maintaining shop and updating constantly with new products and content
- branded packaging and care instructions
- shipping within the US/international rates for each item
- quick shipment of items
- customer service for lost/damaged items
- answering questions on items and the store
- working with clients and communicating for custom orders
- creating updated and unique content for all social media platforms
- not just posting but interacting with other users on social media
- blog content and subjects, including photos, copywriting, links to sources, etc.
- and wayyyyy more!
Q: What's your day job?
A: I'm currently the designer for the marketing department at a software company, although I'll be moving back to Brooklyn in two weeks; I'll be the Graphic and Web Designer at a marketing agency. I love that I get to be creative in my day job, but I'd also love to focus on my store full-time.
Q: When you're discouraged, what do you run to or away from?
A: I tend to get discouraged pretty easily, so it's a struggle staying motivated. For me, the hardest part is starting a project, so I'll end up procrastinating and working on other things because I'm scared of messing it up. But once I finally force myself to start, I get really into it and its becomes second nature again.
Sometimes being creative all day at work and then all night at home wears me down, so I like to zone out for a little bit and watch TV, like X-Files or Law and Order: SVU. That gives my brain a break every now and then. I'm almost always watching TV while I work on design projects, but when my brain feels like its about to melt out of my skull I have to put the project aside and let Scully and Mulder take over for the night.
Your favorite band at the moment: Not a band, but my favorite artist right now is Drake (duh), and have been listening to "Hotline Bling" NONSTOP for the past three weeks.
Your favorite book at the moment: My favorite book right now is "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Condo. I'm a closet hoarder and save everything with the excuse that I'm an artist and could use it for a project one day. But this book really helps you let go of all of the junk thats holding you back and helps you let go of the unnecessary and unwanted. A complete life-changer—I've recommended it to everyone I know.
Your local Austin gem: My local Austin gem would have to be Capital City Bakery! My friend Kristen runs it, and as an all-vegan bakery, her goods taste better than any vegan (or non-vegan) sweet treats around. I'm obsessed with her strawberry cupcakes and chocolate peanut butter brownies. I like to get a handful of snacks to take back home, get high on a sugar rush and work all night on products for the shop. Her chocolate peanut butter brownies have fueled many work-filled nights and kept me motivated to power through my exhaustion!